There are as many parenting styles as there are parents, but some philosophies are talked about a lot. In recent years, "attachment parenting" has been all over the press. Just what is attachment parenting, and is it for you?
Proponents of attachment parenting describe it simply as parenting to meet the needs of the child. This usually refers to small babies, but can certainly be practice from birth all the way through the teenage years. Dr Sears, Mothering dot com, and the National Parenting Network are examples of attachment parenting advocates which can all be followed online to gain a more complete idea of what their views on parenting are.
Those who oppose attachment parenting think it to be either a permissive parenting approach, or a "martyrdom" approach that exhausts moms and isn't suitable for the modern, working feminist. These people may think that attachment parenting is only practiced by conservative families with a stay at home parent, or unemployed hippies.
Though people who practice attachment parenting will always be quick to note that this parenting style is about the individual child and not about a set of "approved practices", it's still possible to look at what most attachment parents do. Here are some practices that often go hand in hand with:
- Homebirth or other natural birth choices
- Babywearing carrying the baby in a baby carrier to promote bonding
- Breastfeeding, and often breastfeeding well into toddlerhood
- Cosleeping with the baby Using cloth diapers
- Rejecting childhood vaccines
- No "Cry it out" or infant sleep training practices
- Gentle discipline, meaning not hitting and often no time outs either
- Using natural household items, eating an organic diet, and perhaps being vegetarian
It's very much possible to practice attachment parenting without doing any one of these things (with the possible exception of gentle discipline and sleep training). Respect for the child is at the center of this philosophy, and all the other things are simply accessories.